Menstruation may be inconvenient but it’s a fact of life. And it’s not always regular or predictable. Keep reading for explanations and tips on how to keep your period in check.
There is no such thing as a “normal” period. Menstrual cycles can vary from woman to woman and from month to month, and there isn’t always a particular reason. However, stress, weight loss or gain, a new birth control prescription, exercise, travel, changes in routine or diet, or more serious issues like a thyroid condition, anorexia or ovarian cysts can all affect your period’s duration.
Menstrual blood may become dark brown or almost black as you near the end of your period. Totally normal. It has been in your uterus longer than your first day flow, and it changes color over time.
Many women experience cramps during their periods. You may feel pain in your lower abdomen, back, or upper legs. Cramps are usually caused by hormone-like substances called prostaglandins that trigger the uterus to contract and expel its lining every month. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more severe menstrual cramps. Other monthly symptoms include bloating, tender breasts, headaches, nausea and fatigue.
Exercise, warm baths, a heating pad or an over-the-counter pain reliever containing ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help ease discomfort.
You are less likely to become pregnant while menstruating, but it’s still a possibility, especially without any contraception. It’s always recommended to use some form of contraception at any time in your cycle. Condoms are a great choice, and they also protect you from STIs.
Stress can temporarily alter the functioning of your hypothalamus — an area of your brain that controls the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle. Ovulation and menstruation may slow down or even stop as a result. Regular periods usually resume after your stress decreases. Being a student can be stressful. Try some stress relief strategies or attend an NYU Stressbusters event.
There are many safe and eco-friendly products that you can use for your period. The products listed below are manufactured with a minimum of harsh chemicals, create less trash than traditional products, and are budget friendly.